Page 6, 23rd January 1953

23rd January 1953
Page 6
Page 6, 23rd January 1953 — Revenge is not so sweet
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Revenge is not so sweet

THE LONG MEMORY (Leicester Square Theatre: Certificate A) Director: Robert Hamer , THE harboured resentment over years of unjust imprisonment is old territory for novel, theatre and film. "The Long Memory" is one more variation on the theme. It has been adapted from Howard Clewes's novel—and who better to play the part of the wronged man than John Mills? None can wear a look of ptinled pain hiding beneath a thin varnish of bitterness more effectively than he.

When we see him coming back into the world after his 12 years' sentence, with all his earthly possessions in a newspaper parcel under his arm, we know that once again he is going to be more sinned against than sinning.

And so it is.

Action is set for the greater part in the flat, marshy land of the Thames estuary—an opportunity for some lovely and imaginative camera work that has been exploited to the last degree. Vast, dramatic skyscapes and lonely stretches of marsh; battered, broken barges; isol a ted "caffs" that carry on the ancient practice inherited from the smuggling inns—all this is unforgettably recorded. James Bawden, the camera operator, should be high on the list of credits.

Philip Davidson (John Mills) has been wrongfully convicted of murder ,because of the perjury of witnesses, including the girl he had hoped to marry (Elizabeth Sellars). Detective Inspector Lowther (John McCallum) has a good reason for wondering what the newly released prisoner will do, because he is now married to the girl in the case and he has a hunch that Davidson is out for revenge.

So. from the moment he leaves prison, Davidson is tailed. He is tracked back to the barge where the murder was committed.

Into the ex-convict's life come a sad little displaced person (Eva Bergh) and a frail little old beachcomber. Between them they decide the man's destiny.

The main point the film makes— and I assume that is what it sets out to do—is that prison does not make a criminal, and that no matter how much a decent, ordinary human may plot a savage revenge, when it comes to the testing time he does not take it.

In so far as this is a character study, it comes off, thanks to John Miiis's te eh ii iqu e and rugged sincerity.

MACLO VIA

(Marble Arch Pavilion: Certificate U) Director: Emilio Fernandez SOMETHING fresh from Mexico —at least, fresh to us, though it won a gold medal at the Venice Film Festival back in 1950. It is a starkly naturalistic story of a tribe of Mexican Indians living (around 1914) on a remote island in one of the Mexican lakes.

Strange as it may seem, the only artificial note in• a work of great artistic integrity is Maria Felix, around whom all the fuss and pother revolves. Miss Felix is "the most beautiful woman in the world"—and she certainly has great beauty. But among this Mexican Indian community it is too much the groomed beauty of Hedy Lamarr, Even much of the crude melodrama — like the goings on of a wicked sergeant and the beautiful heroine offering to sacrifice herself (more "worse than death") to save her lover—cannot spoil this pictorial essay, and for that we must thank the internationally famous Pedro Armendariz who "shot" it, and the sun and shadow on the Mexican scene he has so lovingly displayed.

It is Spanish, with English subtitles.

THE IRON MISTRESS (Warners: Certificate A) Director: Gordon Douglas "THEN flashed and fell the brand 1 Excalibur." It is a poor Tennysonian to whom this quotation won't occur as Allan Ladd throws the deadly knife, with which he has fought across half a continent, into the Mississippi.

Half-way through, it would be a poor Wagnerian who would not be reminded of the forging of Siegfried's sword as he watches the knife being ceremoniously hammered and wrought by the village blacksmith, who throws in a bit of meteorite which he has kept handy for such a job.

A good deal of the knife throwing is done by Mr. Ladd on behalf and for love of a Creole girl (Virginia Mayo) who brings death and destruction in her train.

"No woman is worth the death of seven (or it is eight?) men," he tells her when at last he has shaken himself free of this femme fatale.

As this is New Orleans in the duelling days, corpses lie around all ovet the place. Climax of violence is a fight with the knife versus a sword in a dark room.

Need I add that Mr. Ladd's expression remains the same throughout and that, although he gets run through with all kinds of sharp instruments, he always makes a miraculous recovery, showing that surgery was no mean art even in those faroff days, THE HAPPY VINEYARD (Rialto: Certificate A) Director: Erich Engel

THIS is a German film with Eng lish captions, but, strangely enough, it was the uncaptioned sections that brought the loudest laughs from members of the audience who obviously understood the language.

The comedy is of the rather elephantine Teutonic type, depending a good deal on tipsiness, bucolic sports in the hay, a Clochmerle episode and a pretended pregnancy.

A little gentle fun is poked at such German institutions as boys on singing-hiking expeditions led by a strongly nationalistic schoolmaster, and close harmony singing by stout. middle-aged men round the wine barrels.

from Gustav Knuth as the owner of the happy vineyard.

The film is based on a well-known German play by Carl Buckmayer.




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